Trump Hotel Toronto Nears Auction After Default by Developer

  • JCF Capital, which recently acquired loan on tower, seeks sale
  • Building has been subject to investor lawsuits, protests

Investors who want a piece of the Trump name may now have their chance. The Trump International Hotel & Tower in Toronto is likely to hit the market as the owner of debt on the property seeks a sale.

JCF Capital ULC, a closely held firm, recently bought the construction loan on the 65-story hotel and condominium building, and claims developer Talon International Inc. and related companies defaulted on making payments since last year. JCF Capital is seeking a court-supervised sales process for the property to recoup the outstanding C$301 million ($225 million) on the debt, according to court filings made Tuesday under Canada’s bankruptcy and insolvency act.

Lawyers representing JCF Capital and Donald Trump’s Trump Organization, which licensed its name to the building and manages it, didn’t immediately respond to requests seeking comment. Jay Wolf, one of the operators of JCF Capital, declined to comment. Wolf also is founder of Delaware-based real estate and private equity investor Juniper Capital Partners LLC, which specializes in distressed assets.

“Talon intends to cooperate with all parties while the court restructures the underlying asset," Steven Rukavina, a partner at Toronto-based legal firm WeirFoulds LLP who is representing the developer, said in an e-mail. He declined to comment further, saying the matter is before the courts.

The court filing is the latest in the decade-long saga of the building, Trump’s first branded hotel in Canada. Since construction began in 2007, the tower has been subject to lawsuits against Donald Trump’s firm and Talon from investors who say they were duped; a court battle to end Trump’s management agreement; and protests after the U.S. presidential candidate made comments about Mexicans, Muslims, and women during his campaign.

Earlier this year, Talon attempted to sell the property after defaulting on the loan, originally given by Raiffeisen Bank International AG in 2007, the court documents show. JCF Capital acquired the loan on Oct. 3 and sent a notice to Talon twice this month asking for repayment.

The debt matured in December of last year and Talon has been in default since July 2, 2015, JCF Capital said.

Russian Billionaire

The owners of the property are firms associated with Russian-born billionaire Alex Shnaider and his former business partner on the project, Val Levitan, and include Midland Development Inc. and a few numbered companies. These entities are the only shareholders of Talon, according to the court documents. Midland has already agreed to appoint a receiver, the documents show. Levitan didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Talon currently owns 211 hotel suites, 74 residential units, and some parking spots in the tower. Only 50 of the 261 hotel units, marketed as investments to buyers who earn a fee when the suites are rented, and 44 of the 118 condo units have been sold since the project’s opening in 2012, according to the documents.

JCF Capital will participate in the bidding process and Trump’s firm will continue to manage the property during that time, the documents show. The parties head to court next month for an initial hearing.

Earlier this month, a judge ruled in favor of two buyers of hotel units who claimed they were misled by marketing materials for the building. The appellate judge, overturning a another decision that had dismissed the claims, said one buyer can rescind his agreement with the companies and awarded damages to another after “negligent misrepresentation” from Talon.

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